The Pilatus PC-24 business jet has made its first landing on an unpaved runway.
The so-called “Super Versatile Jet” is undergoing a program of post-certification tests that have a special emphasis on unpaved runway operations. Pilatus plans on obtaining “Rough Field” certification in the fourth quarter of 2018.
The tests are being conducted over two weeks at Woodbridge Airfield, to the north east of London in the UK, where the PC-24 will take-off and land using an unpaved runway for the first time.
The PC-24 has been designed for use on short unpaved runways to offer flexibility. According to Pilatus, the business jet can access almost twice as many airports worldwide compared to other jets currently available on the market.
Oscar J Schwenk, chairman of Pilatus, said, “This sort of mission would not be conceivable without the PC-24’s rugged landing gear, clever flap systems and special wing design. The PC-24 was designed with exactly this sort of operation in mind – that’s Swiss engineering at its very best.”
The PC-24 is Pilatus’s first jet-powered aircraft and uses a pair of Williams FJ44 engines. Testing of the aircraft, which can carry up to eight passengers and has a cruising speed of 815km/h, began in May 2015 and involved three test aircraft.
Pilatus obtained certification for the PC-24 on December 7, 2017, and five have been delivered to customers in Europe and the USA so far.
A total of 23 PC-24s are scheduled for delivery in 2018 and the order book is closed until 2019.
Customers include The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (RFDS), which will use the PC-24 for medevac missions in Australia from 2019. This will involve landing on and taking off from short unpaved runways.